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Shovel Ready

(Spademan #1)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  5,064 ratings  ·  771 reviews
Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he's a hitman.

In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap into" a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravag
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Crown
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  5,064 ratings  ·  771 reviews

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Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
fast read ....
like a bullet ....
on a path paved with gold ....

excerpts arr spoiler(ish)
(view spoiler)
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
You'll leave a trail of trash on this Earth that will far exceed anything of worth you leave behind. For every ounce of heirloom, you leave a ton of landfill.

between this and Schrödinger's Gun: A Tor.Com Original, i seem to be on a roll with this noir/sci-fi genre mashup. this book is dark, funny, and a lot of fun. it's also one of the fastest books i have read in a long time. part of it is that it's written in snappy and short bits of dialogue that give it that classic-noir feel, but it's also
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, read-in-2014
Find all of my reviews at:

“What if I told you I only kill serial killers? It’s not true, but what if I told you that?”
“I kill men. I kill women because I don’t discriminate. I don’t kill children because that’s a different kind of psycho. I do it for money.”

When dirty bombs are set off in Times Square, the Big Apple finds itself minus half of its population (either from the radiation poisoning or from fleeing to a safer coast) and Spademan finds himself out
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Spademan takes care of people's problems. With a set of box-cutters. He doesn't have many rules.
I kill men. I kill women because I don't discriminate. I don't kill children because that's a different kind of psycho.

The book is set in the future New York after dirty bombs have wiped out most of the population. Then he starts talking about the rich plugging into these stupid tables and living in some kind of cyber world.
The shit??
I never did figure that part of the book out.

Well back to the story
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Sometimes when people call me, I can tell pretty soon that they don’t want to hire me, they just want to chat. Blow off steam, fantasize, walk up to the edge but not over it. Before I hang up on them, they always throw out that same question.
Just tell me: How can you do what you do?
I don’t answer, of course, but if I did, here’s what I’d tell them.
It’s not the doing-it part that’s hard. It’s the justifying-it part. And I don’t do that.
I’m not the decision. I’m just the action.
I’m just the bullet
I wasn’t planning on going on a hit man thing, but this is the second novel in a row that I’ve read who has a main character as a hitman.

This one was definitely a little different.

Set sometime in the near future in a New York City that is a small island of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A dirty bomb has turned Times Square into even more of an undesirable place for people living in New York to venture into (and finally something has driven the tourists away from that bizarre area) and a series o
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh is a 2014 Crown Publishing release. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

This Dystopian / Post Apocalyptic novel came at along just the right time for me. I have not read this type of book is such a long time it was an interesting change of pace.

A garbageman loses his wife in terrorist attack, sees New York dry up and become like a ghost town, then turns to the life of being a hitman. When he
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3.5, but it's quirky enough that most will like it a lot or hate it. It's told in the first person present by Spademan, our oddly broken assassin with a dry sense of humor, melancholy, & a lot of trips down memory lane & off the main path. This serves to build the picture of a not-so-futuristic city & world that's rather scary in many ways. The hero isn't any action figure &, while there is a fair amount of violence, it's not something he dwells on or describes in detail. It happens al ...more
James Thane
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction, noir
In the Good Old Days, which were apparently not that long ago, the protagonist of this debut novel was a New York City garbage man. But then another major terrorist attack made much of NYC a ghost town, and in the wake of the attack, virtually all of the major businesses and many of the people who once lived there fled for greener pastures.

One of the victims of the attack was the protagonist's wife, and in the wake of the disaster, he has gone into a different branch of the disposal business and
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, reviewed
Told in the first person by Spademan, a killer for hire, this is a darkly humorous thriller set in an unspecified future. New York City has been decimated by more terrorist attacks than the population can take. Many of the remaining residents spend their days lost in a virtual reality haze. Spademan, with the aid of some sketchy colleagues, turns protector of his latest intended victim, in both the real world and the virtual world.

This is a very sharp novel with a Matrix-like feel but an entirel
I liked this parable-like tale of a jaded, middle-aged businessmen who finds enough conscience to help out a pregnant runaway teen. From page one, we are asked to accept that he is a hitman:
My name is Spademan. I’m a garbageman. …
I don’t want to know your reasons. …I’m not your Father Confessor.
Think of me more like a bullet.
Just point.

Soon we learn that his transition from regular trashman to his current profession is a fair adaptation to a world gone far awry. The wealthy are spending more and
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay, first don't let my inclusion of this book on my "urban fantasy" shelf confuse you. There are no wizards, vampires, werewolves or magic here. The book does take place in a near future world where rampant terrorism including many, many car bombings, a subway bombing and a dirty bomb in Time's Square have turned New York into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is however still heavily populated.

While the finical traders have moved on to other large cities around the world the city itself (other
Althea Ann
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This month's Post-Apocalyptic Book Club selection!

In a dilapidated New York City reeling and in decline after a dirty bomb attack on Times Square, we meet Spademan, who describes himself as a 'Garbage Man.' In fact, he was indeed once employed collecting trash. But now? He's a hit man. Times have changed.

The novel has a double-pronged structure - it does a great job of gradually revealing both the history of what happened to New York and what happened to Spademan himself, and simultaneously sett
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Noir. So so noir. Spare language. Cold dialogue. Lethal plot twists. Everything.

There are a few scenes that are kind of impossible given the narrator. Meaning the narrator could not have possibly known the things he is describing.

But there is an atmosphere to this, it drips on every page, and given how spare the prose is, this is an accomplishment. It is a major one.

You can hear this thing as you read it. You can see the ruined city, you can smell the streets. You can see the blood gush with ea
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Started reading this book last night and could not put it down. Pulpy noir, New York as dystopia, contract killer with a heart of cold...I mean gold. Staccato prose. Subtle, smart world building. Fun, fast read.
***Wanda’s Summer Festival of Reading Fluff***

“I may have once had some thin faith in something like cosmic justice, but now I believe in box-cutters.”

So says Spademan, ex-garbageman, current hit-man, and very noir protagonist in the gritty, post-dirty-bomb world of New York City. Sternbergh speaks in the crime noir voice quite effectively. Spademan can drink with the best of them when he chooses to. He knows his way around the underworld of NYC and he stays on the right end of the box-cutters,
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book starts so strongly.

Hard-boiled, jaded protagonist - a former garbage man turned hitman, with a strict professional code. Check.

Very cool, post dirty-bomb New York City setting. Check.

A contract killing job that gets… complicated. Check.

A writing style that reminds me of Elmore Leonard, and maybe Dashiel Hammett. Check.

A story that holds up all the way through the nove… Oh-Oh.

Yep, this is a another novel that suffers from short-distance runner syndrome. Shovel Ready is Usain Bolt,
Emily Finke
Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Okay, I don't generally write reviews, but I saw so many positive, glowing reviews of this book from people whose taste in books I generally trust. I felt like there needed to be a slighly different take.

Now, first of all, I get where the glowing reviews come from. This is a beautiful, perfectly written, quirky, dystopian, disturbing and perfect for a cyberpunk novel.

Unfortunately, it has a bit of a woman problem.

Vague spoilers for feel below. They mention a scene, but not the actors or the cont
”I just tell them I work on missing persons. Don’t tell them how the persons end up missing.”

Content Warning: (view spoiler) This is also not young adult.

Dark, gritty, different.

Spademan is a garbageman-turned-hitman in a New York that’s fallen apart. Most people live in a “bed” where they are tapped into a virtual reality, Spademan slips into their homes and slits their throats while they’re out. Only when his next target is a young eighteen-y
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I give this 4 and 1/2 it isn't perfect, but it's damn close.

I can totally see how a book like this would be a either love it to pieces or hate the fuck out of it, but I loved it. The dialogue was crisp, precise, it brought to mind (to mine anyway) Elmore Leonard. Not quite on that level, before you all gang pile on me, but that way that the conversations sound natural, sometimes characters in fiction don't sound like you would ever hear the things they say in real life.

I love how t
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's like Raymond Chandler and William Gibson had a baby and that baby is Shovel Ready. ...more
Maine Colonial
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller, dystopian
Lately it seems like I've been reading quite a few books that felt like screenplays, and this is one of them. It's not just that this story has apparently already been optioned; it's also the dialog-heavy writing, the action-oriented plot and the trendy dystopian vibe.

The dystopia comes in because the story is set in New York City after dirty bombs have wreaked havoc on the city and made the divide between rich and poor a chasm. The rich can afford all the protection they now badly need and they
Ryan  Smith
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I will be honest and admit I wasn't overly convinced of this novel right away; as a lover of William Gibson and Warren Ellis, the setting and premise felt a bit too familiar and overall the ground felt a bit well-tread. I knew right away I'd probably not be disappointed because this kind of gritty, noir speculative fiction is deeply in my wheelhouse, but I wasn't sure it was going to live up to the expectations I had been building up for it for months.

In the end, I had really been swept up by t
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a very long time to finish the book but it wasn't due to any shortcomings of the book. It was the issue due to me shifting towns and working in a new job. But once I was able to sync few things this book came up and was finished in just few sittings.

The story is set about 100 years in the future where New York or rather Times Square is destroyed with a nuclear bomb and this has caused New Year to be almost empty with no tourists in sight. In this world lives Spademan as he is called a
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before reading "Shovel Ready", I hadn't realized what I was missing. I kept picking up books and setting them down again, nothing was quite right. But then I came across Sternbergh's unique debut and realized: what I had been looking for all along was a bleakly funny noir mystery featuring a wise-talking garbage man-turned-hitman! It sounds crazy, and it is, but it works. Spademan is an appealing antihero, perfect for Dashiell Hammett fans. I can't wait for more from this talented author! ...more
This starts really really well, and then seems to fall apart during the last third. I might do a full fledged review later, but for now I just don't care enough. I'll read the blurb and some reviews of the next one, but this one didn't have enough hitman in it considering its lead character is a frikkin hitman, and didn't have enough mystery in it considering how noir the tone is. ...more
Barbara McEwen
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, Spademan is quite the 'hero'. A garbage man before NYC was bombed, he now 'takes out' human trash, with a box cutter. I like this character but I also listened to the audiobook. He does speak in short, choppy pieces, and can repeat himself, which may not be as easy to read as it is to listen to. I also think the author did a good job of crafting this unique new NYC. I had an idea where the plot was going but I was still entertained. ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: s, 2014

The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselve
Let’s just forget for a moment that from a brief Google, Sternbergh presents like Lena Dunham in a jock strap: in other words, a person with the connections, friends and background to make anything he writes — from recipes for toad stew to one-man-Beckett-style plays about the meaninglessness of IKEA — immediately land a cushy publishing deal.

Let’s not be bitter. Let’s cut Sternbergh some slack. Because despite all those advantages — meaning that I came to Shovel Ready with my canines bared and
Mike W
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found shovel ready on a list of 2014's best fiction and thought it sounded interesting. It turned out to be perhaps my favorite read of the year so far. I loved this book from its terse prose to its unique and prescient plot. Shovel ready is a dark but stimulating read that entertains throughout and also provokes thought.

The book is set in a near future New York that has been the target of a dirty bomb, and so has become a dystopian setting long abandoned by most who could affor
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Bad Girls Book Cl...: Shovel Ready 3 5 Jan 05, 2015 06:21AM  

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